Maria Ingrande Mora (she/her) has been working in digital media since 2002. She specializes in identifying brand narratives and translating them into messaging that doesn’t feel like marketing.
Maria lives in Florida with a menagerie of rescue animals. She identifies as queer and bisexual. She is the single mom of two middle schoolers, and she can barely keep up with their voracious reading habits. If she isn’t writing, revising, or at work, please tell her to go to bed.
Can you tell us 3 random things about you?
When I was a kid, a manatee swam up and put its big whiskered mouth on my shoulder and scared me out of my mind. Manatees are super gentle and I know I shouldn’t have flipped out, but I’m also scared of cows. So I don’t have a track record of being reasonable around large mammals.
I’m really into burning incense. I find it incredibly relaxing, and it makes my home feel more home-like. I get most of mine from a local shop called Bodhi Basics that makes it handmade and I’m very spoiled by the quality–it’s nothing like the synthetic stuff.
I grew up on and around all sorts of boats, and to this day I’ll go out of my way to seek out any kind of boat ride, because I’m happiest out on the water. But I am also deeply afraid of shipwrecks. Like the literal wrecks in the water. At the bottom. Knowing that they’re there. Horrible.
Where did you get the idea for Fragile Remedy?
Everything I write begins with a scrap of a feeling I get while listening to music. Back when Some Nights by Fun. was on the radio all the time, I heard it in the car and Reed sprang to life. I knew right away that he was a humble, quiet leader in a harsh world. The story evolved from there, and was originally about… fairies.
Can you describe Fragile Remedy in 3 words?
Queer romantic disaster.
Who is Nate?
Nate is an INFJ-T. With an emphasis on the T for turbulent.
He’s a boy who’s tired of lying to survive. He wants connection, but he’s crushed by secrets. He can’t trust his best friend, the boy he loves is suspicious of him for all the wrong reasons, and the gang he calls family doesn’t know there’s a bounty on his head.
He feels most fulfilled when he’s helping others. He isn’t big or strong, but his tinkering skills give him and his gang an advantage when it comes to safety and survival.
He can be very emotional, and isn’t particularly apologetic about that.
How do your characters first appear to you?
I get a sense of character emotion before I “see” them. It’s often insight into their vulnerabilities. Then I explore appearance and personality and dialogue, playing with both until a sharper picture starts to materialize.
When writing, do you tend to think of how you were as a young adult and put some of those characteristics into your characters?
I was an insecure young adult who often felt out of place. That sense of longing and loneliness often comes into play when I’m writing young adults.
There’s a little bit of me in most of my characters–but those pieces are amplified and put to the test by obstacles and tough situations.
What do you want readers to take away from Fragile Remedy?
I hope that readers connect with the characters. I love feeling like I’ve gotten to know real people when I read a book. As a teen, getting sucked into a book was my absolute favorite thing next to going to bed early and acting out stories in the dark. If this book inspires a reader’s imagination and sparks emotions, I’ve done what I set out to do.
I also hope that readers see their own courage and tenacity in Nate. You don’t have to be the chosen one or save the world to be the hero of your own story.
What is the hardest part of the publishing process, and how do you overcome it?
The hardest part of publishing is that everything is hard. The waiting. The insecurity. The comparing. The vulnerability. Even letting yourself feel the joy can be hard. It’s a huge amount of emotional risk, and the payoffs are very uncertain.
If you want to do this:
- Seek out a community of people who get it. It helps a lot if they’re in the same stage you are, whether that means querying or agonizing about your debut.
- Celebrate every win. That might be a 500-word sprint. It might be taking constructive feedback with grace. It might be turning in a draft. It might be a sweet email from a reader.
- Allow yourself to feel things. Be merciful to yourself. There are no wrong feelings in publishing. Feel the rough stuff and let it pass. Feel a sense of accomplishment. You’ve earned it.
- Stay on your path. You’re not on someone else’s publishing journey. You’re on your own. Try not to get swamped by comparing yourself to others’ perceived successes. Take care of your mental and physical well-being.
What advice do you have for young writers starting out?
Read as much as you can. Don’t worry about whether or not your writing is good, or whether or not you’re doing it right. Work on establishing good routines and habits. Believe it or not, learning to turn your homework in on time will actually help you turn your writing in on time when the time comes.
Most of all, write for yourself. Don’t write for what you think the market wants. Your voice is important.
What is your favorite book? What YA books would you recommend?
One of my favorite books, and one I re-read about once every three years, is SWORDSPOINT by Ellen Kushner. It’s queer speculative fiction, it’s dense and a little weird, and I discover something new with every read. Along with WEETZIE BAT, it was one of my first exposures to queer fiction about 20 years ago. UPROOTED by Naomi Novik is probably a close second in terms of favorites. I’m a huge sucker for prickly romances and grumpy sorcerers.
When it comes to YA, I gravitate toward fantasy. I desperately want everyone to read THE READER by Traci Chee. Recently, I loved SORCERY OF THORNS, WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE and THE MERCIFUL CROW.
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Interview : YA SH3LF